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Friday, April 24, 2015

Life Explained, explains music, kind of.

This is the first in a three part series about music, kind of.  It will probably be sequential, but if a good idea for a post strikes it will have to be allowed to flourish.  Ok, if a good idea for a post strikes, it will be the first time, yes, I know, that is why it will take precedence.

We will start with music from my past, from the dark times of my life, a giant wizard of poetry who got me through some desperate days.  Then we will move on to the present, and a couple of guys I "met" on Twitter who have proven to me that there is still some good in the world, and happiness is what you make of life.  Last we will look at the absurd, and ways to improve things for only $5.99 or $6.99, I don't remember.  But, here is the first post about music, sort of.

"I will indulge my sorrows, and give way to all the pangs and fury of despair."

Joseph Addison.

When I first started to toy with the idea of having a blog it was because of people like Graham Parker.  His lyrics were so pointed, so brutally delicious, so beautifully painful, they were a rock for me to cling to when I felt lost. His songs were so important, so demanding, so strong, so unavoidable. His muse was life, pain, suffering, and he never surrendered. In the end he helped me learn to hang on, and never give up.

Graham Parker never wrote music, he summoned music to life from the darkest pits of the soul, he sharpened music into a razor, he used music to fight back. He fought back for everybody who didn't have a voice, all of the people who had something to say, and did not know how.  He was angry, and his anger was a wonderful distraction from the hopelessness that seemed to be everywhere.

For five minutes and eleven seconds "Empty Lives" would remind me that I wasn't alone.  There were others just as lost, just as scared, in just as much pain. And when it was finished life did not seem so pointless.

When he sang;

"Sometimes, you play around I don't know what your game is,
Sometimes it hurts so bad I don't know where the pain is."*

Or,

"The dark hand will call you out of nowhere it seems,
The black cloud will bust apart, shattering your dreams."**

It was tonic, it was balm, it was remedy. It was the music that could soothe the savage beast. And, it got me through. And now, it makes me happy just knowing that Graham Parker is still giving voice to sentiments that many fear, still wrestling with the terrible, still making music that people need.

It has driven me ever since. Words can be so wonderful, so powerful, so poignant. They can express so much.  There were others of course, but Graham Parker was always there to show me the way out of misery, to turn despair into defiance, to prove that if you fight you can prevail.

Now, I am happier, and if not any braver, less afraid. A lot of that comes from living this long, hey that is an accomplishment.  But, a lot of it is my wife, who has helped me in ways she will never understand, and I can never explain.  In the words of Graham Parker;

"When I get the fear, gets down to the bone
But when you're near I don't feel alone...

Oooh, baby your love does it all,
Even when the world makes my skin crawl."

It was difficult to pick a song to put here, he had so many that meant so much.  In the end I went with "Empty Lives." It is a song that says so many things in so many ways.***



He has a new album coming out, called "Mystery Glue" and the one song I have heard is as great as I had hoped.  But, if you want my advice don't wait, go get one of his old albums, maybe start with "Another Grey Area" sit back, close your eyes, and let Graham Parker fight your fights for an hour or so, he is willing and able, and you could use the break.  He was always willing to fight for me.

Tune in tomorrow, or the next day, or soon and hear about "Boy From the Crowd."  The band, the brand, the work it takes, and why everybody could learn something from them, even while enjoying the music.

* From "It's All Worth Nothing Alone"

** "Fear Not."

*** For a time I had this song as my ring tone. My wife and I were walking through Macy's and I said "stop, listen, they are playing Graham Parker."  I was amazed.  She looked at me, patiently and with love, touched my cheek softly, gently, and said, "answer your phone, you idiot."